Definitions

sarcelle

Garganey

[gahr-guh-nee]
The Garganey, Anas querquedula is a small dabbling duck. It breeds in much of Europe and western Asia, but is strictly migratory, with the entire population moving to Africa in winter, where large flocks can occur. This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 under its current scientific name.

Like other small ducks such as the Common Teal, this species rises easily from the water with a fast twisting wader-like flight.

Their breeding habitat is grassland adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes.

The adult male is unmistakable, with its brown head and breast with a broad white crescent over the eye. The rest of the plumage is grey, with loose grey scapular feathers It has a grey bill and legs. In flight it shows a pale blue speculum.

Some care is needed in separating the brown female from the similar Common Teal, but the stronger face markings and more frequent head-shaking when dabbling are good indicators. Confusion with the female of the Blue-winged Teal is also possible, but the head and bill shape is different, and the latter species has yellow legs.

These birds feed mainly by skimming rather than upending.

The male has a distinctive crackling mating call; the female is rather silent for a female duck, but can manage a feeble "quack".

Garganey are rare breeding birds in the British Isles, with most breeding in quiet marshes in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The Garganey is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Etymology

The common English name dates from the 17th century and comes from dialect Italian gargenei, a variant of garganello, which ultimately comes from the Late Latin gargala "tracheal artery". The English usage owes its origins to Conrad Gesner who used the Italian name in the third volume of his Historiae Animalium (History of Animals) 1555.

Trivia

  • Its name in French is sarcelle d’été, but in the Camargue is said cacharel, and this name inspired in 1962 Jean Bousquet from Nîmes to name his trademark Cacharel.

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